DENVER–A bill to refer a massive tax hike on tobacco and vaping-related products to the ballot was swiftly killed Thursday on the floor of the Senate, just one day before the end of the 2019 Colorado General Assembly.
The measure was introduced on the previous Wednesday in a hurry-up effort to jam it through in the waning days of the session, among the dozens of other bills still jockeying for consideration at the statehouse. The effort came with the backing of Governor Polis.
House Bill 1333 would have asked voters to raise taxes on a pack of cigarettes to $2.59 from the current 84 cents, as well as establish a 64 percent tax on the wholesale price of vaping products. Colorado voters thoroughly rejected a similar tax increase on tobacco products in 2016.
Polis’ support for a large-scale tax on vaping products, which would fall disproportionately on low-income users, came as a surprise to some given his apparent previous support for such products as safer alternatives that help people quit smoking tobacco. In 2018, Polis retweeted a study from the Cato Institute on overreaching Food and Drug Administration regulations on vaping products, writing: “The @US_FDA should get out of the way of technologies that improve health, help ppl quit.”
The bill died on an unrecorded vote, but as the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul reports, just nine senators out of 35, all Democrats, stood in support of the bill.